Westworld Stars Tease Season 2 and Reveal Behind-the-Scenes Secrets

Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, and more discussed season 1 of their HBO hit at a 2017 PaleyFest panel in Los Angeles.

by | March 26, 2017 | Comments

Freshman HBO series Westworld kept fans guessing throughout its mind-bending first season, toying with our senses of reality, humanity, and morality as it told a complex story about cyborgs in a futuristic wild west theme park. Since we didn’t quite get all the answers by the end of season 1, the cast and creators of Westworld turned up at PaleyFest to reveal secrets about the series — and hints about the closely guarded second season.

1. The cast didn’t know what was going on either

Showrunners Lisa Joy and Jonathan “Jonah” Nolan apparently had a fiendish tendency during filming to keep cast members in the dark about the overarching story of Westworld. Few of the characters’ narratives overlapped, so actors often didn’t know what was going on outside of their own arc — or how it would all come together in the end.

“They doled out the information — Jonah and Lisa — so beautifully,” said Jimmi Simpson, who plays white-hat William. “At one point, I think maybe episode two or three… I was like, ‘What’s happening?’ And [Lisa] goes, ‘I’m just going to say, you have, like, a hell of an arc.”

For his part, Ed Harris, The Man in Black (who was later revealed to be an older William), joked that he still doesn’t know what’s going on.

“I was by my trailer one day and someone said, ‘That’s the guy who’s playing you as a young man,’” he shared, referring to Simpson. “And I said, ‘What!?’”

Star Evan Rachel Wood, whose character, Dolores, interacts with Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard in the “real” world, didn’t know Bernard’s true identity until the audience found out halfway through the first season.

“I didn’t know Bernard was a Host when we were doing those scenes — I had no idea,” she said.

The actors agreed that, while frustrating at times, not having the whole story allowed them to play each scene as it came.

“As long as I knew what Teddy knew in that moment [I was fine] — what his programming was, what was going through his mind, what comments all the guests and humans around him would say he would register and what comments he would not register,” James Marsden, who plays the perennially ill-fated Teddy, said.

Added Simpson, “it was so immersive, the way they gave us these characters bit by bit. You had to play the moment at hand.”

Joked Wood, “it helped that most of the time I didn’t know what was going on, so playing lost and confused worked.”

2. Maeve really did act on her own free will in the end

Fans were psyched to see brothel owner Maeve, played by British actress Thandie Newton, slowly become sentient and make plans to escape the confines of Westworld. That is, until Bernard reveals that whole “awakening” to be merely a narrative, programmed by someone or something for purposes not yet made clear.

“That was a horrifying moment,” Newton said, referring to both to the story point and her personal response. Because Newton didn’t know about that particular plot twist beforehand, her reaction on camera was as raw and emotional as many fans were to watching it.

But there’s an upside to that scripted escape narrative. When Maeve decides to jump off the train at the last second in “The Bicameral Mind,” returning to the theme park in search of her daughter, it was the first real decision she — and possibly any Host — ever made.

“It’s a very emotional moment in the episode because you’re really seeing the birth of free will there,” Nolan explained.

3. The show has a strong female empowerment theme

In her personal life, Newton is a fierce advocate for One Billion Rising, a charity dedicated to stopping violence against women. So when the Westworld creators offered her a role of an prostitute who gets killed nearly every day, Newton was a bit skeptical.

“When I spoke to Lisa Joy and Jonah and they said, ‘So you’re going to play a madam in a brothel, and you’re going to do — a lot of it will be naked, is that cool with you?’ I was thinking, ‘Do you know that I fight violence against women? Like that’s what I do in my spare time,” Newton said.

But she said that being nude on the show is “not gratuitous,” because the nudity — and the way the Hosts’ naked bodies are used and abused — helps drive home the idea that this is a world worth changing.

“The point we’re trying to make is, look where we are, and is there a road out from here?” Newton said, adding, “I was an activist every single day I went to work. I felt part of the solution every single day I went to work.”

4. Season 2 is coming — eventually

Nolan is notoriously tight-lipped about his projects and remained so about the upcoming second season of Westworld.

“It’s a musical,” Nolan joked when asked what season 2 has in store.

Teased co-executive producer Roberto Patino, “There will be a story, and it will f–k with the metaphysical at some point.”

Here’s what we know for sure: The second season is currently being written, and scripts for all 10 episodes will be done before filming begins. Joy was coy about whether production would start this summer, but regardless, all signs still point to a 2018 premiere date.

“It’s a 10-hour movie that we’re making,” Nolan said. “We’re writing right now and we are terribly excited about what we’re writing.”

Just don’t expect to see Harris in a Samurai World spinoff (or skyclad, for that matter).

“I just don’t want to be naked or wear a samurai suit. And I’m saying that publicly,” the actor said.

After all, he quipped, “Samurais don’t wear hats.”

Tag Cloud

book Tumblr game show based on movie GIFs stand-up comedy Mindy Kaling Holiday Pop NBC Crunchyroll 2017 Star Wars natural history Emmy Nominations free movies Sundance finale crime DC streaming service MSNBC screen actors guild binge Creative Arts Emmys FX E3 See It Skip It Black Mirror Amazon Prime serial killer festivals award winner Mystery LGBTQ Box Office 2015 Election mockumentary elevated horror YouTube MTV cops 2020 dc quibi NYCC X-Men Winners spy thriller Toys Film Festival what to watch Oscars christmas movies Sony Pictures psycho Heroines Disney Emmys PaleyFest Freeform CMT romance renewed TV shows golden globes Cannes Comedy Central Adult Swim Paramount Network Shondaland tv talk TCA south america Action Walt Disney Pictures kids Esquire Superheroes Nat Geo Musicals transformers strong female leads RT21 Comic Book Marvel Studios cars spinoff slashers spain Family TLC Watching Series Infographic cancelled TV series Podcast Paramount Cosplay indie First Reviews Calendar jamie lee curtis revenge TruTV Amazon Prime Video Ghostbusters police drama RT History Epix Photos President Hulu television Chilling Adventures of Sabrina doctor who Fox News OneApp 2019 Fall TV witnail Quiz crime thriller Warner Bros. diversity casting ITV A&E batman USA WarnerMedia Marvel Television screenings theme song Pet Sematary Pixar unscripted cancelled TV shows 45 BBC CW Seed WGN Lifetime Spectrum Originals Valentine's Day supernatural GLAAD Nickelodeon boxoffice Rocketman Country canceled Nominations Rom-Com Tubi ABC toy story Ovation breaking bad anthology SXSW Britbox dragons Masterpiece DC Universe reboot 2018 Chernobyl anime Film true crime Trophy Talk Martial Arts Apple TV+ Sundance Now ratings HBO Universal crossover TV Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Pirates thriller CBS spider-man Interview Certified Fresh VH1 TBS series First Look joker Opinion Binge Guide Acorn TV historical drama Mary Tyler Moore Best and Worst Marathons HBO Max singing competition Song of Ice and Fire Crackle FOX Spring TV Musical zombie technology A24 sequel Rocky Showtime Netflix spanish language Endgame Year in Review TV renewals Syfy latino Anna Paquin Writers Guild of America green book Reality Competition Winter TV ghosts The CW TCA 2017 Character Guide Set visit Columbia Pictures DC Comics Sneak Peek Arrowverse teaser hispanic Stephen King mutant blaxploitation dceu richard e. Grant GoT Superheroe Sci-Fi Bravo E! comics Apple TV Plus LGBT political drama Vudu cults Food Network period drama comiccon Disney Plus TNT adaptation Women's History Month Lucasfilm IFC Films Super Bowl Mudbound space Awards Tour cinemax aliens BBC America name the review IFC Trailer Kids & Family Grammys psychological thriller Comics on TV PBS Holidays politics zombies BET Pride Month Dark Horse Comics Turner Music Sundance TV DGA Hallmark animated Red Carpet canceled TV shows YouTube Red harry potter Starz Hallmark Christmas movies Elton John Fantasy Reality medical drama facebook Summer Classic Film nature werewolf Biopics 20th Century Fox sitcom game of thrones Christmas American Society of Cinematographers sports Disney+ Disney Plus The Purge Trivia Cartoon Network children's TV social media vampires streaming Western OWN SundanceTV travel romantic comedy Avengers TV Land Schedule AMC Drama crime drama YA Mary Poppins Returns composers war Mary poppins ESPN MCU Disney Channel DirecTV blockbuster Television Academy San Diego Comic-Con TCM SDCC History Tarantino Turner Classic Movies The Walking Dead cartoon Spike docudrama VICE discovery Animation cancelled television APB ABC Family Comedy FXX cats Thanksgiving YouTube Premium Marvel comic Premiere Dates robots TIFF 71st Emmy Awards cooking directors Horror Extras Lifetime Christmas movies disaster dramedy Countdown video foreign Tomatazos CBS All Access halloween zero dark thirty National Geographic TCA Winter 2020 Rock Baby Yoda Netflix Christmas movies Academy Awards The Arrangement Captain marvel 24 frames Video Games The Witch biography versus justice league hist New York Comic Con Lionsgate Star Trek Teen science fiction miniseries 007 Polls and Games Logo Peacock sag awards independent Ellie Kemper rotten movies we love Amazon Shudder movies CNN 2016 Discovery Channel Awards Disney streaming service Apple Brie Larson talk show 21st Century Fox El Rey cancelled USA Network adventure